Troy Davis Executed in Georgia for Killing Off-Duty Cop

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Protesters for Troy Davis gather on the steps of the Georgia Capitol building on September 20, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia

After one final, desperate plea for clemency, Troy Anthony Davis was executed after the U.S. Supreme Court denied his request to cancel his execution. In the dramatic pinnacle of an intense and controversial case, Davis filed an eleventh-hour plea on Wednesday evening about an hour before his scheduled execution time of 7 pm, causing a temporary delay as the high court considered the appeal, but was ultimately denied.

Davis was pronounced dead at 11:08 pm at the Jackson, Georgia, prison where he was being held. He maintained his innocence in the slaying of Savannah police office Mark MacPhail right up to the end, telling MacPhail’s relatives from the gurney: “I did not have a gun.”

“For those about to take my life,” he told prison officials just before he was executed by lethal injection, “may God have mercy on your souls. May God bless your souls.” Outside the prison, hundreds of supporters and family members had gathered to protest the execution of Davis, who over recent months has cast a definitive shadow of doubt over his guilt. Police officers in riot gear kept a close eye on the estimated 500 protesters spread out across from the prison entrance.

In August 1991, Davis was convicted of the 1989 murder of MacPhail, who was off-duty at the time of the killing, working a second job as a security guard at Burger King. MacPhail was shot after he intervened in a fight at a nearby parking lot. At the time, multiple witnesses testified that they had seen Davis shoot MacPhail, while others claimed that Davis confessed to the crime.

At least nine key witnesses against Davis have disputed all or parts of their testimonies in recent years, according to the Associated Press. However, despite doubts about his conviction, Davis was denied clemency numerous times, including on Tuesday after the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles listened to more than three hours of testimony.

While thousands of people rally around Davis’ innocence, not everyone agrees with his plea. Around 8:20 pm Wednesday night, CNN reported that Anneliese MacPhail, the mother of the victim, was devastated at the prospect of another delay, before judges denied Davis’ last-minute request.

“I want it over with. … They’ve been through the courts four times there in Georgia. They’ve been to the Supreme Court three times,” MacPhail told Anderson Cooper. “We feel (Davis is) guilty. The evidence and everything that we have seen – that I have seen , because I’ve been to all the trials – he is guilty, and I believe in that. And so does the rest of my family.”

It was the fourth time that Davis has experienced this surreal day of events. In 2007, Davis’ execution was postponed just one day before it was supposed to occur. In 2008, he came within 2 and a half hours of dying before the U.S. Supreme Court stopped it. Later that year, the federal court of appeals stopped it three days before it was scheduled.

Davis spent Wednesday preparing for his scheduled execution. Six hours, from 9 am until 3 pm, were allotted for Davis to spend with his family. Davis then received clean clothes and a physical before being served his last meal around 4 pm. At 5 pm., Davis was allowed to record a final statement before being offered a sedative to calm his nerves approximately an hour before the scheduled execution time. Just after 11 pm, he was pronounced dead. He was 42 years old.

Erin Skarda is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @ErinLeighSkarda. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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